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The good news for the security industry in tough economic times? Courtesy is free.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In my recent endeavors to introduce myself to all of you I haven't yet met, and to say hello to those of you I have, and perhaps to discover that coveted bit of new and exciting news that no one else has, I found myself cold calling my way through my Rolodex.
I have been touched by the kindness, willingness to talk and courtesy with which I have widely been met. Annie Roderick of Wayne Alarm, for example talked to me for a while about SSN's new ssnTVnews section of our site (by the way, if you've got a camera, start generating some clips, and send them over to our fearless leader Sam Pfeifle). Andy Stadler also chatted with me for a piece about the goings on at Security Partnerss. Andy provided me with this pic of Security Partners' new central located in a refurbished railroad warehouse.
I thoroughly enjoyed my talk last week with G4S's Jerry Cordasco, who though I inadvertently called him on his cell phone during lunch, was nonetheless friendly, informative and, yes, courteous.
I had a wonderful, friendly conversation today with Mel Mahler, Tom Szell and Lela Mullins from ADS Security. We talked for a while about all the awards they won at the First Alert Professional Convention held from November 13 through 16 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.
Unfortunately, even though courtesy is a free, though priceless commodity, some people just fail to see the value of "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," or even "good bye" before hanging up on you. I've called San Antonio-based Dispatch Center, Inc. a couple times now, just to say hello and see what was going on. The first time, I got connected eventually to Stephen Harper, who was, at least, friendly. This time there was no Stephen available to let me down easy with a "nothing new going on." On both occasions, I have had the great misfortune to have to first deal with a guy named Ray. Today, after asking me, "What do you want?" he actually hung up on me as I was asking if Stephen had vociemail. And that was, unfortunately, before I could tell him to "have a nice day." So, have a nice day, Ray.
Now, I'm sure that we're all very busy and far too important to talk to the press, but are we really reduced to grunting out aggravated questions like imperatives? Is it really necessary to hang up on people, Ray?
My point is that courtesy is free, and earns you the admiration and respect of your peers, including the press who report upon you. Doesn't that make the worth of courtesy incalculable?
Just a thought. I welcome comments.

Is Nokia eyeing the security market?

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
An interesting story from the Continent today, showing that Nokia may soon be a player in the security marketplace. It's starting out with a collaboration with an energy company to help people control their heating (it's a Finnish company - heat's a big deal there) through the Nokia Home Control Center, essentially a wireless router on steroids, but the article goes on to say that Nokia feels other third parties will integrate with its box, including security manufacturers: The smart box is based on an open Linux-based platform and includes a raft of wireless technologies which allow users to connect remotely via a PC or smartphone. It is envisaged that third parties will integrate their own services as Nokia vies for a slice of the "networked home" market. It packs 6GB (gigabytes) of storage, necessary if it is to act as a store for video from security cameras. First: Wow. "It is envisaged"? That may be the most passive sentence starter I've ever witnessed. Well done, anonymous BBC writer! Second: What the article discusses isn't all that different from what a Honeywell Total Connect, DSC+Life|Ware, or GE Home Technology can do, but it's interesting that a mobile device maker is trying to get hardware in the home. With competition heating up and mobile device makers struggling to keep their profits up, security might be an area where more of them try to make hay, whether it's the iPhone pushed as a video surveillance key, or smart-phones pushed as the center of your digital universe, including your security system. Regardless, it's more indication that mobile is king, and if you can't offer your customers access to their system via their mobile device, that's going to increasingly be a problem.

Shape up security

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
If Somerville can shape up, the security industry has definitely got a shot. A few days ago I wrote about the woes of Santa Monica, Calif. where so many people are exercising and making so much noise that the neighbors complained and the cops had to get involved to limit the exercising. (I know, big problem!) Look what's happening here on the other coast: Somerville, Mass has become "Fit City" according to this story in today's Boston Globe. Somerville is a city next to Boston, borders Cambridge actually. I lived there for a while way back in the roaring 80s. At that time, Davis Square was a place for 20-somethings to find a cheap triple decker, not the hipster hangout it has turned into today (home of Axis Communications execs among others.) But who knew it would turn into Fit City? And guess what? the city of Somerville, in collaboration with charitable organizations and Tufts University is encouraging this "Shape Up Somerville" initiative. And it's becoming a model for other communities, from the story: "We want the default behavior, the behavior that requires no additional money or significant effort, to be the healthier behavior," said state public health commissioner John Auerbach. "How do we achieve that? By making sure schools have healthy lunches in the cafeteria. Working with employers to create healthier work sites. Make it easy for people to walk or bike to school or stores. To do that means mobilizing a community, and that's what Shape Up Somerville has done." Some one tell me that there's a Shape up Security initiative out there.

High level integrator exec is moving on

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Just heard that George West, vice president and head of Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions business unit, is leaving the industry to head up an energy company in Boston. There hasn't been an official press release, but Siemens called our offices to let us know, which was cool of them. His last day is Friday, if you want to drop him a line. In my opinion, it's the industry's loss. He's a good thinker and definitely had some vision for where the industry was headed. Here's the interview I did with him when he was hired, in early 2006. Interesting that I mention his desire to return to New England in the first paragraph. Guess the family REALLY liked New England. Personally, I've lived in New England most of my life and I don't think it's any great shakes, but you can't account for taste. Interesting side note: There is apparently a George West, Texas. Who knew?

Some post-election insider dope from an industry member

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Some of you may know Frank Baitman, who ran Petards' North American operations until the company sold off its secret sauce and things went south. Well, Frank took the time off and went to work for Obama's campaign (insert joke about why Petards didn't succeed here...). If you're interested, he's posted some stories about his experiences on his blog. It's a good read and pretty interesting, regardless of your political persuasion. Read from the bottom up. Further, I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and I'll get back on the blogging.

Intelli-Tec owner in tragic boating accident

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Sad news came over the wire just now: Intelli-Tec owner Marty McMillan was killed in a boating accident on Sunday. Marty L. McMillan, 51, of Westbury, founder and president of Intelli-Tec Security Services, was fishing on his 30-foot boat Xiao Mu Ji 11 miles southeast of Montauk and 5 miles southwest of Block Island when the accident occurred about 9:30 a.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Annie Berlin. "They were attempting to pull anchor and try fishing another area and he became tangled in the anchor line and went overboard," said East Hampton Town Police Det. Sgt. Christopher Anderson. McMillan, who has been in the security industry since 1977, was not wearing a life jacket, Berlin said. I've never had a chance to meet Marty. If anyone would like to leave a thought or two about him in the comments sections, please do. Intelli-Tec is a Security Net member doing residential and commercial work out on Long Island. Here's a nice write-up of Marty from a local Real Estate Journal. Edit: Newsday has posted an interview with Marty's son Cody. It's heartbreaking.

Did anybody get any footage?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
People looking for a way to get on ssnTVnews need only search their recordings (or the recordings of their customers) for footage of that 10-ton meteorite that hit last Thursday night. I would love to check out some of that. Thousands of people in a 400-mile radius saw the fireball created as the object entered the atmosphere and exploded with the force of 300 tons of dynamite. That's how you know it happened in Canada: "thousands of people in a 400-mile radius." Harkening back to 8th grade math class, that's, what, 500,000 square miles? And they didn't say "tens of thousands." So that's (tops) 10,000 people in 500,000 square miles, for a population density of, say, 1 per 50 square miles? Whooo, boy. They must have some parties there! Anyway, scientists are asking for any footage they can get of the event: Several people filmed the fireball on Thursday night and researchers are urgently attempting to track them down. "We are now trying to get all the transient information about the fireball before it is lost," Mr Hildebrand said. He added: "Many motels and gas stations only keep their security recordings for one week or less, so we urge everyone to check their systems to see if they recorded the fireball or the moving shadows that it cast." I'm sure there are cameras at just about every gas station and motel in the area (all five of them), since the crime must be through the roof there on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. So, where (other than to me) do you send the footage if you got some? It's unclear. The "Small Bodies Discipline Working Group" doesn't appear to have a web site, so try the contact page at the Canadian Space Agency.

Security yogis take note: New restrictions in Cali

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Here's hoping we have more problems along these lines. Did you see the story on the front page of the New York Times today about too many people exercising (and making too much noise) in Santa Monica? Here's the link The problem area is along a median near Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive. People have used this area for walking and jogging for years, but apparently, now, some fitnessphiles are gathering pretty early in the a.m. for organized exercise classes. They're blowing whistles and counting loudly and doing stuff you don't really need to do to get a good work out. The people who live nearby complained, understandably, so in the last six months, the Santa Monica Police Department has park rangers patrolling the area enforcing a 'no-hanging out in the median' ordinance. They've posted these signs that say you can walk or jog, but no other exercise is allowed. The story says they warn about 600 people a month to move along and they've issued eight citations (for $158) For non-compliant exercisers. A couple observations: Isn't the noise, and not the exercising, the issue here? I'm assuming these loud exercisers are the same people who are so frightfully important that they need to talk on cell phones loudly and for extended periods of time in enclosed spaces like trains and planes. I understand that Santa Monica just found an existing ordinance to enforce to get rid of these noisemakers, but it seems like the loud exercisers just need an etiquette lesson. You know, a reminder to observe some basic tenets of the social contract. Don't disturb the peace and no one will care that you're practicing yoga instead of sprinting on the median. Loud exercising, or exercising of any kind for that matter, does not seem to be widespread in the security industry, but just in case you were planning to channel Richard Simmons on the median during breaks at the March Security Growth Conference, you've been forwarned. No Ashtanga on the median until further notice. Stick to walking and jogging.

NetVersant files for Chapter 11 protection

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Monday, November 24, 2008
This is a breaking story I'm working on, and was tipped off to by a loyal reader and a press release from Anixter. Here's what I've got. Anixter International Inc. Comments on Customer Bankruptcy Anixter International Inc., a leading global distributor of communication products, electrical and electronic wire & cable, fasteners and other small parts today commented on the anticipated financial impact from the bankruptcy filing by NetVersant Solutions, Inc. ("NetVersant"). On November 19, 2008 NetVersant filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. In those filings, NetVersant showed Anixter and its subsidiaries to be unsecured creditors in the amount of $28.6 million. At this time Anixter is evaluating its position with respect to lien or other rights which it may have in connection with sales to NetVersant. Specific to this bankruptcy filing Anixter anticipates recording an expense of approximately $20 to $22 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 to increase its reserve for doubtful accounts. Commenting on the NetVersant bankruptcy, Bob Eck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anixter said, "We are obviously disappointed with the bankruptcy of a customer with whom we have a long term working relationship. In this challenging economic environment we are continuing to work closely with all of our customers and suppliers to maintain constructive business relationships. A current assessment of our key customer relationships shows this situation to be unique in terms of the circumstances and relative size of the exposure." So, you know what I know. I'm going to go find the bankruptcy filings and put in some calls.

Getting what you deserve deptartment

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Monday, November 24, 2008
My Google alerts just picked up this items about fans of High School Musical getting fed viruses. The infected files are distributed through popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks such as eMule, eDonkey, etc. and when users search for files related to "High School Musical" using these programs, some of the results include files infected with malware. As someone would say on one of my favorite forums: LOL, Boo-Hoo. Maybe if you didn't try to steal bad Disney music, you wouldn't get a bunch of viruses. What did that have to do with the security industry? Exactly zero. Just couldn't help myself.

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